[Editor's Note: In the interest of keeping things fresh, we aren't doing the traditional "May Flowers" series this year but this spin-off miniseries, spearheaded by abstew though I'll also be chiming in, featuring characters named that way. - Nathaniel.]
Full Name: May Welland Archer
Film She Starred In: The Age of Innocence (1993) Martin Scorsese's adaption of Edith Wharton's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel (1920).
Played By: Winona Ryder (real last name: Horowitz). Already a well-regarded and popular actress having previously worked with directors Tim Burton and Francis Ford Coppola, the then 21-year-old was Scorsese's first choice for the role.
Time and Location: The film takes place in the preferred setting of Scorsese, New York City. Although the drawing rooms and Opera houses of a 1870s Manhattan were a bit of a departure. May and her family also spend their summers in St. Augustine and when she and Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) marry, they Honeymoon in London and Paris (where she has her clothes made and a sculpture modeled of her hands).
First Appearance in the Film: May first appears at the 4 minute mark when professional snoop/gossip Larry Lefferts (Richard E. Grant) spies her controversial cousin Countess Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer) entering the Welland's Opera box. More...
A minute later, we get a better introduction as Newland makes his way to join her in the Welland's box, saying her name as he greets her.
Hobbies: Oh, a lady's only hobbies are that of being a good wife to her husband and doing everything proper in high society. But if you insist, she's also an accomplished archer (how fitting considering her married name) even winning at the Newport Archery Club. She also enjoys needlepoint, attending the theatre and opera, throwing dinner parties, and manipulating her husband in a passive/aggressive manner. Oh, did I just say that aloud!
Favorite Flower: Lilies-of-the-Valley. They arrive every morning courtesy of Newland. They are as chaste and innocent as May herself. Unlike those common yellow roses...
Newland: That was two weeks ago, wasn't it? I thought you just said you weren't sure til today?
May: I wasn't sure then, but I told her I was. And you see? I was right.
Awards Traction: For her portrayal of May, Ryder was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award (historically losing to Anna Paquin in The Piano). She won the Best Supporting Actress award from the Golden Globes, National Board of Review, and Southeastern Film Critics Association. And nominations from BAFTA and Chicago
More About This May Flower: Scorsese has said that this is the most violent film he's ever made as all the violence takes place behind smiling facades of quiet backstabbing and scheming. And no character exemplifies this more than May Welland and Ryder's masterful performance. Seemingly doe-eyed and uninterested ("Oh, never mind. It sounds too complicated."), she cunningly strikes when it will have the biggest impact. All the while maintaining her girlish charm and composure. Always looking out for her own self-interest, she gently, yet forcibly, guides Newland to do what is "right" despite what she knows to be his true feelings, silently striking his heart as easily as a target with her arrows.